Sea Summit Trail (San Clemente)
- Location: Pico Park, San Clemente. From the north, take the 5 Freeway to Avenida Vista Hermosa (exit 77). Turn right and follow Avenida Vista Hermosa 0.6 mile to Avenida Pico. Turn right and go 0.3 mile to the park entrance, on the right. From the south, take the 5 Freeway to Avenida Pico (exit 76). Turn left and follow Avenida Pico 0.7 mile to the park entrance on the right.
- Agency: City of San Clemente
- Distance: 1.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: All year
- Dogs: Allowed on leash
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: Fountains at Pico Park
- Restrooms: Full restrooms at Pico Park
- Camping: None
- More information: Trail description here; Yelp page here; article about the trail here
- Rating: 3
The Sea Summit Trail has been popular with south Orange County hikers since its opening in April 2015 and with panoramic ocean views and a family/dog friendly design, it’s no surprise. The trail is a network of short spurs and loops, including stretches of residential streets, so multiple different routes are possible. A complete tour of the Sea Summit Trail system would be about four miles (and it’s the type of place that’s enjoyable to simply wander around) but those short on time can enjoy the essential views of the area from the 1.2-mile loop described here.
From the far end of Pico Park, begin hiking and turn left at the first intersection (the right fork heads up the eastern fork of Trident Canyon, a nice option if you have time to explore it.) The trail crosses a footbridge and meets an intersection. Head uphill (right) and climb a staircase leading to the top of the bluffs. The view includes the Dana Point headlands and if visibility is good, Catalina Island. You reach a view point where a spur leads northwest up Trident Canyon’s central fork, another option for extending the hike. Continue straight, heading down and then up a pair of staircases.
At the next junction, you again have the option to extend the hike, this time up Trident Canyon’s west fork, a loop with a spur leading to an alternate trailhead on the western edge of the open space. To return to Pico Park, bear left and follow the trail to a staircase. At the bottom, another trail heads back above El Camino Road, curving around the bluffs to return to the footbridge and your starting point.
Text and photography copyright 2017 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.